Finding inspiration, and ‘In Stone’Posted: July 3, 2013
Today’s post is by one of my mates from Twitter, the gorgeous Louise D. Gornall. Her debut novel, IN STONE, was released on Monday, so the first thing I wanted to say was HAPPY BOOK BIRTHDAY!
Massive thanks for having me on your blog today, Cass!
So, I’m here to tell you guys the inspiration behind In Stone. Of course there was music, various breath-taking landscapes and thousands of hours spent searching through pictures on Pinterest. Then there were the emails between me and my CP, as well as the countless 4am brainstorming session with my twin sister. All of these things were inspirational, and the book would have undoubtedly sunk without them. However, if I HAD to single out three things that were inspirational in the pre-writing stages of In Stone, they would be:
1. This quote from Friedrich Nietzsche: “And if you gaze for long into an abyss, the abyss gazes also into you.”
2. Then there was a conversation I saw between two agents on Twitter that amounted to ‘stakes in a story are significantly lowered when immortals are involved because immortals, after all, can’t die.’
3. And then there was the plot of The Lord of the Rings.
I’m not going to go into too much detail because I will undoubtedly—however inadvertently—end up giving away the plot of In Stone. It wouldn’t be the first time I’ve done that. I just wanted to tell you a little bit about how these things wormed their way into my imagination and helped me cook up a story.
So, I think the first point is pretty standard. Who doesn’t find inspiration in a good quote? This one spoke volumes to me. I’ve read a couple of academic articles that all ponder its meaning, but I took it at face value when I applied it to my plot. To me this quote says that if you’re going to hang around with bad guys, eventually some of that badness is going to rub off on you…
The second point was something I’d been thinking long and hard about for a while. I knew I wanted my MC to be an immortal, but I didn’t want my stakes to be significantly lower because of it. This conversation really got me thinking about how I could avoid compromising my stakes, and that in turn helped me to develop a huge element in my plot.
Finally, The Lord of the Rings is my favourite film of all time. I love everything about it. I would have loved to have had the balls to attempt a retelling of Tolkien’s epic tale…but I don’t. So instead I borrowed some aspects of LOTR. Location, for example. One of my favourite things about LOTR is that it is as much a physical journey as it is a mental one. Plus, you know, I’m a writer. I like to add to my characters hell whenever I can, and dumping them in unfamiliar landscapes while they had this epic task to undertake was just too perfect. And then of course, there was the idea that this one tiny thing (a ring) could cause so much trouble and make even the most loyal of people turn rogue.
…and I’m going to stop now because my spoiler senses are tingling. I’m a bit of a sponge when it comes to inspiration. I find a little bit of something in everything, but these three things were definitely responsible for shaping In Stone.
Beau Bailey is suffering from a post-break-up meltdown when she happens across a knife in her local park and takes it home. Less than a week later, the new boy in school has her trapped in an alley; he’s sprouted horns and is going to kill Beau unless she hands over the knife.
Until Eighteenth-century gargoyle, Jack, shows up to save her.
Jack has woken from a century-long slumber to tell Beau that she’s unwittingly been drafted into a power struggle between two immortal races: Demons and Gargoyles. The knife is the only one in existence capable of killing immortals and they’ll tear the world apart to get it back. To draw the warring immortals away from her home, Beau goes with Jack in search of the mind-bending realm known as the Underworld, a place where they’ll hopefully be able to destroy the knife and prevent all hell from breaking loose. That is, provided they can outrun the demons chasing them
As a general rule, nobody walks the Switch on account of the overgrown nettle bushes, a pungent aroma of foot infection, and a collective fear of encountering something feral. However, the Switch shaves at least ten minutes off my journey, and lately I don’t trust the dark. I blame my encounter with the almost-corpse, two nights ago. Before then the dark was just a natural progression: something to be slept in, a different color in the sky. Now, shadows make me jump, and the dark carries a silence that makes me think of funerals. It breathes life into creatures that had always been safely contained behind a TV screen. I make my way down the Switch, striding over vicious flora and trying to ignore the occasional nip that sinks straight through my jeans.
“Hey, Beau!” A voice from behind startles me. When I turn, Gray is jogging in my direction, thwarting thorn bushes with his bare hands. “I was looking for you.”
The hairs on the back of my neck bristle. My hand is in my pocket, and my fingers are wrapped around a slender cylinder of pepper spray as he reaches me.
“Well you found me. What’s up?”
“There’s something I need to ask you,” he says sheepishly. He hammers his toe against the ground, grinding it nervously into the dirt and crushing several stems of dandelion into gold dust. He giggles; it’s a soft, sweet sound that suffocates my hostility. He reminds me of Mark moments before he’d asked me out on our first date. Maybe this guy could be the one to liberate me from my social network sabbatical. Maybe my slightly-too-heavy eyeliner and my reputation as the mortician’s daughter hasn’t freaked him out.
“Really?” Surprise raises my pitch. “What’s that?” The pepper spray is abandoned in my pocket.
“Where’s the knife?” he replies, snatching my throat and slamming my back up against the concrete wall. It’s so forceful, so hard, that my spine ripples. Red flashes across my vision. The muscles in my neck go slack, and my head flops forward. He stabs his thumb up under my chin, forcing me to look him in the eye. His eyes are like the moon; cold, giant circles of icy-silver. But a change in his eye color is nothing in comparison to the change happening on either side of his head. I don’t understand it. It makes me wonder, briefly, if what I’m seeing is a side effect of the migraine pills Leah slipped me at lunch. Gray is growing horns. Giant grey horns that slide out of the side of his skull and then curl like springs around his ears. They’re animal.